Thursday, August 19, 2010

Memory lane

This week I went inland, to Rennes, where I went to University. It felt very strange to walk through those streets again, a little like walking through a dream, and at the same time nothing felt like it was before - maybe a sign that I've truly grown out of the person I was then...or just that it had been sooo long.

I eventually found a record store where I spent a bit of time - they had a listening station, that was nice. Found a Kristin Hersh album I didn't know, and discovered a funny French Madagascan pop outfit from the 60s, The Surfs. I also had to take a photo of those two goth kids across the street:

It turns out they appeared right above the Sister of Mercy bin, I didn't realize when I was taking the picture...

At my parents' house I pondered my teenage reads -

and old photos:

We liked to dress up!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eric Rohmer's Brittany

When D and A were here, D kept talking about how this area reminded her of an Eric Rohmer movie. She did a little research and found out that at least one of them was shot in the region, Conte d'Eté. Here's the trailer, and a few stills:

I yet have to see this one. I seems to be very Rohmeresque - a summer romance, or romances, that features a young male character torn between several women, and incapable of making up his mind, or committing himself. I found a good summary here.

...and some photos of the beach I took, for supporting evidence. The weather has turned to grey so it's at least a reminder of the sunny days:

(I like that lonesome 'parasol')

Those were all taken around here, but the movie was actually shot in Dinard and around,  a couple of towns east of here - I was there yesterday, although it was too overcast to show you the likeness. Here's a photo I found online, recognize the striped tents?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

French 45s

Sunday before last, the little town where I am staying was having a "vide-greniers" - a sort of huge flea market. For the occasion, the whole seafront was lined with little stands. I strolled it for a bit but never covered the whole thing. It really spread for a couple of miles. But I hit a stall of old 45 rpm records, and found a few interesting ones:

I'll have to wait to be home to hear them on a turntable, but for now, here are a few of the titles, courtesy of youtube - enjoy!

Françoise Hardy, J'suis d'accord (one of her first songs, that I used to cover...)

Jacques Brel, Jacky - from his final farewell album, Les Marquises. I love that song, along with almost everything else he did, really.

Petula Clark, Chariot (in French!). The video is so dated! (and so funny...)

Nino Ferrer, Le Sud, a French classic. His earlier hits are also worth a listen - straight up 60s rock, like Mirza, Oh!Hé!Hein!Bon!, or the ever popular Le Téléfon

Serge Gainsbourg's controversial Lemon Incest

And finally, Les Compagnons De La Chanson, Le bleu de l'été

They were a 50s men's choir group, I love their vocal arrangements. I had a conversation with Van Dyke Parks once, who told me a story about how he told a French journalist that they were one of his main influences. The journalist was appalled and told him it was very unfashionable - they are somewhat out of fashion nowadays, I'd say most people would think of them as straight up cheesy, or 'ringard'. But after the article was published, an 80 year old member of the group wrote Van Dyke Parks a letter to thank him for mentioning his choir. And Van Dyke concluded - 'isn't this just the reason why we do what we do?'

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Deer territory

Some of the gems collected on a recent little trip to the country, where I was visiting more family:

A walk in the forest,

The view from the door of the cottage where I was sleeping,

And a drawing from my cousin's thirteen year old daughter after I played some songs in the living room:

I played them this song, you see.


Speaking of, don't forget about the Deer Convention Project. There is only until the end of the month to contribute and reserve your awesome rewards!...

go here:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Some of my favorite foods

Of this I already had three times on this trip and I can't get enough. My dad made it every summer when I was a child, and back in the US, when I was thinking of coming here, this is what I was fantasizing about: grilled mackerel.

They come from the fish market in the morning, fresh, line caught and never kept on ice. You can press them with coarse salt and herbs ahead of time:

Once you got your fire just right they can go on the grill:

And after a few minutes...voilà:

Eat them with potatoes in the skin with a lot of butter, and some dry white wine - it's a feast!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I had some visitors last weekend, which allowed me to do a little tourism in these parts. A lot of good times were had, and I'll probably have a few more posts about them... On saturday afternoon we headed to Dinan, a little city on the banks of the river Rance. It's perched on cliffs and surrounded by ramparts, and most of the medieval town center is still preserved - very well preserved I should say. We strolled around the tiny streets and visited the shops. Found some delicious salt butter caramel, and sat for a crêpe mid afternoon, while watching street musicians carrying on the jester tradition.

I like how the wooden structures are sagging a bit and making everything look askew. See that tower?

Stripes, stripes and stripes.

Inside the covered market, La Cohue.

One of the few very fine looking engraving shops we encountered.

From the ramparts you can see the little port, nestled on a bend of the river:

Wouldn't it be nice to stay in one of these houses and take a few days to explore the river on a boat? maybe sail all the way to the English Channel...